World of Warcraft is one of the best massively multiplayer online role playing games created to date. In sheer number of subscribers it blows away the competition. From personal experience I could say it’s too good. I have personally played off and on for several years with online friends and regular friends. The problem is that when it’s “on” it’s definitely on.
Playing World of Warcaft sucks you in and you can easily become addicted to the game. WoW is not the first online role playing game to have addicted gamers, it has simply magnified the problem. Depending on how far back you’d like to go you could call Ultima Online the first graphical massively multiplayer online role playing game. This was followed up by EverQuest which brought the idea and the problem into the mainstream. You begin by telling yourself you’ll only play occasionally, or when there’s nothing else to do. However, it quickly becomes a priority. You just have to get that next level or that next item. The game isn’t maliciously designed but it is designed to keep you interested and keep you paying. As soon as you accomplish objective A, a new objective always pops up.
You begin to lose touch with friends outside of the game and think about the game when you’re not playing. This can be extremely detrimental if you’re working a regular nine to five job. The problem isn’t so much the fact that you’re playing; it’s what you’re not doing while you’re playing. When you go out with other friends and the usual question “What have you been up to lately?” comes up, it’s rather difficult to talk about the workings of a game they don’t care about. You’re not much of a socialite when you’re talking about which orc or troll you killed last night. Roommates and family can get the wrong impression of you if you’re constantly in your room with the door closed. It leads others to believe you don’t want to be bothered or that you don’t care.
Every few months most players question themselves, asking why they’re playing so much. Many people try to quit but it’s such an engrossing atmosphere you miss the constant development and goal-setting. There is an innate human need to set goals and achieve them and this type of game addresses that need. There is a feeling of need and drive and “If I just meet this next goal, I’ll be set”. But there is always another goal to be achieved.
Several friends and I have tried to quit on multiple occasions but we constantly find ourselves back for more. Unfortunately a good portion of my friends still play and have created characters all over again. There is always a nagging in your mind that you’ve developed a character so much that letting it go to waste would be silly. You have such a leg up on other players because you’ve been playing for so long. The only way I escaped was by removing that nagging feeling. I went through all my accounts, gave away all my items and deleted all my characters. It was difficult clicking that delete button and throwing away something I had worked on for so long. Remarkably, when my characters were all gone I no longer felt compelled to play. There was nothing left for me there. It was one of the best decisions I have made. If you, or someone you know, is addicted to an online game perhaps it’s time to talk to them about doing the same.